RETROCITY Into the Long Night
A semi- fictional city imagined by Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
Retrocity is a gigantic city located somewhere in the United States of America. Massive Ultrapolis surrounded by walls that used to countain the inhabitants inside her. A mystical place where giant buildings of concrete and metal crush the dreams of the residents. A sick city cursed by a disease that turns her inahbitants into objects of all kinds. A city who listens, a city who whispers. A monster that haunts the souls of the ones living inside her.
THE PAST OF RETROCITY
In the 1940s, the US government turned a prolific city into a political, social, and scientific experiment. A massive wall was built around the city and no citizen allowed to leave. Brother and sister James and Lucy Hover, both renown scientists, were nominated at the direction of the city. They created the Hover Corporation.
1942, official start of the experimentations. In the shape of a green fog, mood altering substances were sprayed in various neighborhoods.
January 15 1947, The Black Heart, a massive building of black stones with no doors or windows, appeared at the center of Retrocity.
In the 1950s, the experimentations in the City were going full speed.
Every product for sale was now branded Hover. Hover cars, Hover socks, Hover toothpaste, Hover cigarettes…
June 22 1958, Dr. Strauss diagnosed the first official case of Retroprocessus: Picture Man. A disabled 53 year old man had “blended/merged” with his color TV monitor.
Strauss’ report is as follows: “The man and the TV can not be separated without destroying one or the other. They are a one and unique thing. The TV monitor is occupying the right section of the man’s torso, stuck asymmetrically between shoulder and hip. There are veins running through the monitor and electric cables within the man’s body. The man’s voice changes as we switch the TV channels and there is light coming through his eyes. Unplugging the Man/TV has no effect. The man is still hungry and has kept his digestive functions. However, his mind is affected to a point where it is difficult to dissociate casual conversation from TV commercials.”
Evolving on its own, separated from the rest of the world, the City remained stuck in the spirit of the 50’s.
Cases of Retroprocessus multiplied in the city. The Retroprocessus was officially classified as an “Affliction”. Affecting 10% of the population.
Two other types of Afflictions appeared then: Ghosting and Hollowing. One sees the physical envelope of the individual disappearing, and the other affects the mind, leaving the body empty.
1962, under the supervision of Lucy Hover, a team of scientists figured out that the Afflictions were affecting human inclinations. Separating humans from their primordial needs and instincts were suspected to act as a remedy against the Afflictions. Mechanical implants in the flesh of the Afflicted individuals would appear to stop the Retroprocessus. The more machine an individual becomes, the less Afflicted.
Implantation of mechanical parts into the human body is, to this day, considered the only cure.
Biomechanical implants and prosthetics had become the new trend in the City.
1965, mysterious disappearance of Lucy Hover.
James Hover sent the request to have statues of her built all over the city.
Alone at the head of the Corporation, missing Lucy more than a brother should miss a sister, James Hover dove into a deep depression.
Life in Retrocity was at its worst. The Afflictions were spreading, the Corporation watching and controlling the citizens in their every move. The Watcher haunting the streets in their long black leather coats. The human body had become a business. Citizens were almost all infertile. And half the city lost power.
In 1968, the US government fully separated itself from Project Retrocity, removing it from the maps and the books. The wall still standing strong and the gates remaining closed, only to open when someone was thrown into the city, as an alternative to jail or death row.
The world forgot Retrocity, and the City forgot the world.
The collapse and the Big Blackout of 2031 did put America and the rest of the world into economical failure. While cities were collapsing, Retrocity remained protected, surviving on its autonomous economic system and resources.
With the climate changes and lack of care for the infrastructures, the outside world was officially declared “Hostile” by the US government in 2033. Today, it is only referred to as The Wastelands.
The US government claimed back ownership of “Project Retrocity”, asking the Corporation to open the gates of the walls in order to welcome American citizens from all over the country. The US government and the Hover Corporation now share the political power of the City.
The city that was once a highlight of America’s nefarious history is now a symbol of salvation and hope for the population. A massive influx of people forced the US government to extend the city and build outside the old walls. A new wall was built around the reformed city, to protect if from the outside world.
In 2050, Retrocity is referred as an ultrapolis.
But the City has not changed. It is starving, searching for souls to devour.
And the Black Heart remains.
A note from the author
Retrocity is how you want to make it.
It is yours.
In fact, I am still considering calling the Gamemaster “The City”.
You, Gamemaster, give the city the face you want to give it.
Mine is a mix of High-tech and decay.
Shiny High-Tech in the most recent neighborhoods, with a taste of dust and rust in the old areas. The original Retrocity, the one from the 2011 graphic novel, remains the core of the city, with its gigantic walls enclosing it. Yes the gates are open today, but this area is a perfect excuse for me to recreate this dark BladeRunner or Se7en atmosphere that inspired my writings in the first place. Something very 80/90’s were the rain is making everything shiny and glittery. Wet dark concrete reflecting neon lights.
On the opposite, as a contrast (and I love contrasts), the new neighborhoods, more recent, feature many technological advancements. It is cleaner, more controlled, more crowded. Busier. The building are taller and people are everywhere. And light, a lot of artificial light all over, flashing and blinking. In comparaison, the Old Retrocity is silent and calm. And yet, alive and dangerous. It remains the dark heart of the city.
RETROCITY / Into the long night Offers a canvas, a frame, a structure, a playground, in the shape of a gigantic city. A city that molds its inhabitants, giving them unexpected mental of physical shapes … Implants, infusion, processing disease and mental corruption, all those are part of the Retrocitizens daily routines. And it is up to you, Gamemaster, to paint this city as you want. Give it the shade you wish, the texture you know your players will appreciate , and paint a full fresco with them as the centerpiece.